TORONTO — Socrates Brito is the type of guy you can talk yourself into.
He’s fast. Like 99th percentile Sprint Speed fast. He’s also got a touch of pop from the left side and brings solid defence, although maybe not the kind you’d expect from someone with his wheels.
It’s not a surprise that when Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins was asked about his newest outfielder the word “intriguing” cropped out a couple times.
“The handedness is intriguing and the Triple-A performance is very intriguing,” he said. “So is the fact he can play all three positions and the raw speed.”
It’s indisputable that the Blue Jays are low on both left-handed bats and speed. Brito also has a healthy .303/.352/.484 line in 1,113 Triple-A plate appearances. He’s also going to make his share of highlight reel plays in the outfield thanks to his speed and an above-average arm.
Not every outfielder make this throw, for instance:
Or this play at the wall:
There are at least three good tools there. Three tools ain’t bad.
Unfortunately for Brito, his individual attributes don’t tend to coalesce into a coherent and effective baseball player. His speed doesn’t translate into as many steals as you’d think and he hasn’t swiped even 20 bags in a season since 2015 in Double-A. His outfield defence is more good than great, and he seems like an above-average corner outfielder/poor centre fielder tweener.
He has good numbers in Triple-A, but those came in the notoriously hitter friendly Pacific Coast League and the fact he has 1,113 PA there in the first place is a bit of a red flag. The 26-year-old Brito hasn’t broken through for a reason.
When he’s gotten major league opportunities he hasn’t made the most of them hitting a dire .202/.229/.351 in 175 trips to the plate. That’s not a big enough sample to render judgment, but it’s not encouraging.
Brito has enough talent that there’s always potential for him to click, but he’s at an age where it feels unlikely that’ll happen. The Blue Jays are in the business of hoping for unlikely breakouts at this point, so Brito’s as good a bet as most guys that are available for virtually noting. Which is to say, not a great bet.
Even Atkins concedes what he’s dealing with is a volatile player, though he positioned that fact in the most optimistic way possible.
“There’s volatility there. He could potentially come in and give as much production as someone like Kevin Pillar,” he said. “There’s not as much certainty that he will.”
Brito is exciting because of the things he can do things other guys can’t. On the flip side, there are plenty of mundane things other players can do that he seemingly can’t, like make consistent contact or draw a walk. The best case scenario for him is pretty damn appealing, but the chance he finds that elusive ceiling in a Blue Jays ceiling feels rather remote.
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